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Festival celebrates Meghalaya’s agro-tourism, strawberry fields

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Two-day Strawberry Festival gets under way across state

SHILLONG, April 12: The much-anticipated Meghalaya Strawberry Festival was on Friday set in motion in various parts of the state, celebrating the thriving strawberry fields and rich agro-tourism offerings.
According to a statement here, the inaugural ceremony of this two-day celebration, dedicated to showcasing the luscious strawberries of the state, started with great enthusiasm and fervour.
This two-day event unfolded across different parts of Meghalaya, each offering a unique array of activities.
Locations such as Sohliya, Umsning, Iewpynsing, Nohron, Kynktieh, Syntung, and Darechikgre welcomed visitors to partake in activities such as strawberry-picking, cycling treks, live music, cultural performances, and a special workshop on local beverages.
In Sohliya, Commissioner and Secretary of Tourism department, Dr. Vijay Kumar D, said that strawberries thrive in Meghalaya due to favourable conditions and dedicated farmers, further emphasising tourism as a beneficial aspect.
Arguing that events like the Strawberry Festival, by blending tourism with strawberry cultivation, aim to enhance livelihoods and businesses, Kumar said that the strawberry cultivation in Meghalaya could be expanded from 25 to 100 acres next year and possibly to 500 acres if market opportunities are tapped.
“This expansion is expected to significantly improve lives,” he said.
The village headman of Sohliya, Ostander Lyngkhoi, expressed his gratitude to Kumar for the latter’s support in making the festival a success.
Lyngkhoi, a pioneer in strawberry cultivation in the Northeast, mentioned that Ri-Bhoi currently produces 2 to 3 tonnes of strawberries annually.
Meanwhile, at an inaugural event in Syntung, Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare department Secretary, Isawanda Laloo, expressed her gratuitude to the Sordar, the community, and the hardworking farmers for their efforts in gaining recognition for the village’s strawberries.
She highlighted the feasibility of growing sweet and juicy fruits in Syntung, mentioning the significant growth prospects for the village and the region due to increasing sales and farmer incomes.
Emphasising agro-tourism as a viable path forward for creating job opportunities, she hoped for continued improvement and expanded opportunities for farmers and agri-entrepreneurs in Syntung and the entire state through enhanced strawberry cultivation.
At a separate programme in Nohron, Horticulture department Director D Sohtun informed that the officials from the department had provided training for strawberry cultivation.
She also urged the farmers to cease cultivating strawberries since it is a source of earning for them.
On the occasion, Oscar Nongrum, a strawberry farmer, informed that the cultivation of the fruit, which started in the village in 2015, has sustained the livelihood of the villagers.
He added that the farmers steer clear of the use of chemicals and are into organic strawberry farming.
In Darechikgre, West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Jagdish Chelani said Strawberry Festival has come out well to celebrate a product of Meghalaya, which is nascent but could be developed beautifully.
“The strawberries, with further processing of food, can be utilised at a much higher price for the farmers of the region,” Chelani said.

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